We win compensation for an accountant’s mistake after our client’s previous solicitors give up on the case
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We have successfully recovered compensation for an accountant’s mistake. But what made this case unusual was that our client had been turned away by her previous solicitors on the basis that her case had no merit.
Based in the North East of England, Ms A owned a property with her bankrupt partner, B. B’s Trustee in Bankruptcy was looking to seize and sell the property to pay off some of B’s debts. In order to keep her home, Ms A asked accountants for assistance.
Some time later Ms A had reason to query the advice she had received. In reaching a settlement with the Trustee in Bankruptcy to buy B out, the accountants forgot to check with B’s mortgagee about their charge over his interest in the property. If they had done so, they would have realised that there was no value in B’s interest due to negative equity. If they had known that then they could have simply invited the Trustee to waive his interest in the house in favour of Ms A. Instead, she was forced to pay many tens of thousands of pounds to buy out the Trustee to acquire something that was essentially worthless.
However, the accountants denied they had ever acted for her, even though it was clear that the firm had negotiated terms with B’s trustee in bankruptcy on her behalf, so they could not deny they owed her a duty of care.
The accountants refused to co-operate with Ms A’s enquiries, ignoring correspondence and then claiming that they had destroyed any papers they had on the matter. Ms A made a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office, but the accountants continued to claim the papers had been destroyed and that they had never acted for Ms A. As a result of this, her legal advisors (who had been appointed to represent Ms A under the terms of her Legal Expenses Insurance policy) claimed there were insufficient merits in the claim and the risk of taking legal action was too high. They said there was nothing they could do to help.
This is the point we entered the picture. Ms A decided to seek a second opinion, and wisely on this occasion sought specialist help from ourselves. We specialise in professional negligence law and are highly experienced in dealing with negligence claims against accountants.
Emma Slade who heads up our ProNeg team disagreed with the previous solicitor’s analysis. In fact she was so certain they were wrong that she offered to take up the case on a no-win, no-fee basis.
Despite there being such a small amount of paperwork available, Emma was convinced there was enough evidence to support a claim. After much perseverance, the accountants and their insurers were finally persuaded and they reluctantly agreed to attend a mediation. The mediation was a success and a satisfactory settlement was negotiated.
Ms A was delighted with the outcome, thanking the team for their help. “The real compensation is knowing that I was right. After everything, the money is fine, but it feels better to be believed and acknowledged.”